FROM ALPACA FIBER TO FASHION FARMER
Donna Young's a farmer/vendor at the Amherst Farmers' Market on Saturdays from the third Saturday in April until the Saturday before Thanksgiving, going from 7:30am until 1:30pm. You might see her still packing up after 2:00 on many a Saturday, after everyone else might be home, he-he-he! She's sure the farmers' market manager doesn't notice that she is delayed. This is her sixth year with her fashionable warm alpaca products at a very successful farmers market currently at the Common in Amherst rather than Spring Street due to COVID-19.
Donna Young, age 59, has been farming in Ware for 32 years, when she purchased 16 acres of raw land nestled in the Hills of Western MA, near the Quabbin Reservoir. Donna commenced building a split level house and a 60' by 90' barn that houses horses and alpaca along with some out buildings. Donna's best friend, who she went to many Alpaca Affair's with, soon retired, moved to Maine and purchased 2 alpacas : ) Donna, not to be out done, purchased 10 alpaca's, lol. She quickly grew her herd to over 50 but 3 years sold 30 alpacas to down size in her retirement, and now has 18 -13 girls/hembras and 5 boys/machos.
Alpaca's are originally from South America particularly Peru, Chile, Ecuador, and Bolivia. Donna originally purchased her alpaca's from Canada as the American Dollar was worth 100/70% in 2001. Alpaca's are smaller than Llama's and are related to Camels as all have a split lip characteristic.
Alpaca's are timid, docile and they mostly spit at other herd members they may have a pet peeve with, and even known to spit in the others ear, yuk! Alpaca's can grow up to 10 pounds of fiber/fur a year which is shorn/harvested once a year in the spring, a pair of socks takes almost ½ pound of prime fiber to make.
Alpaca fiber is used to make clothing that wicks moisture and eliminates odor, it is very soft and just a thin layer is needed to keep you very warm. Natural alpaca fiber is available in 22 colors and the light colors can be dyed to red/blue/purple/pink/green etc. Socks, boot inserts, gloves/mittens, hats/scarfs are just a few items that are made from my alpacas fiber. Alpaca is a natural wool fiber that will keep you warm for as long as you want to be outdoors, though it's always nice to have a warm cup of hot chocolate, yum!
In Donna's spare time she likes to ride her 17 year old white Thoroughbred gelding for fun, he's a great horse and loves attention. She also has a 17 year old bay Thoroughbred gelding which is a brother from another mother, as all thoroughbred's are related to 3 stallions...a story for another day. There is a large surrendered number of alpacas and rabbits at Nevim's Farm: https://www.wwlp.com/news/massachusetts/large-surrender-of-alpacas-and-rabbits-in-massachusetts/
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Bringing you organic, grass-fed, pasture-raised, locally-sourced blog posts on a semi-weekly basis from the Amherst Farmers' Market.